Italy’s ’green pass’ becomes compulsory on long-distance public transport from Wednesday

Police stepped up patrols at train stations and airports across Italy on Wednesday after protests were threatened against the expansion of the health pass scheme.

Italy's ’green pass’ becomes compulsory on long-distance public transport from Wednesday
Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

Starting September 1st, Italy’s coronavirus ‘green pass’ health certificate is now obligatory for passengers on some forms of public transport, including long-distance trains, domestic flights and ferries.

Under the new decree law, school and university staff will need the pass in the new school year, as will university students. 

The certificate has already been required since early August to enter cinemas, museums and indoor sports venues, or to eat indoors at restaurants.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions answered about Italy’s Covid health pass

The health certificate proves bearers have either been vaccinated with at least one dose, have recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, or have tested negative in the previous 48 hours.

The Italian interior ministry ordered police checks to be strengthened at train stations, ports and airports across the country from Tuesday night after anti-vaccine protesters said they planned to disrupt the public transport network, Rai reports.

The leader of Italy’s neo-fascist Forza Nuova group, which is among those organising protests against the health pass and Covid-19 vaccines, told the Adnkronos news agency: “We will be in all stations to block departing trains” on September 1st.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said there will be ‘zero tolerance’ for anyone found guilty of trying to interrupt a public service, which is a crime in Italy, while trade unions stated that “anyone who decides to interrupt services, in the name of the freedom to not get vaccinated, will not have our support”.

So far no major disruption or delays have been reported.


What are the new rules?

The pass will now be required when boarding domestic flights and ferries as well as international services. It will not be a requirement on city buses or other forms of local public transport.

All passengers on high-speed train services (Le Frecce and Italo) and on Intercity services will also need to show a ‘green pass’.

The pass will be verified on board the train along with tickets, reports Italian news agency Ansa

READ ALSO: What changes for tourists coming to Italy in September?

“In the event that the traveller does not show the pass or it turns out to be invalid, the traveller is invited to move to an area reserved for passengers without a green pass and will have to get off at the next stop,” Ansa writes.

The Strait of Messina ferry route, which connects Sicily with mainland Italy, is considered a local public transport route and is exempted from the requirement, according to the Italian news site Avvenire.

Children under 12 are exempt from the ‘green pass’ requirement. The rules apply to everyone over that age, including tourists.

Italy recognises all equivalent health passes from other EU countries and proof of immunisation issued from any of these five non-EU countries, including on paper.

READ ALSO: Can tourists and visitors use Italy’s Covid ‘green pass’ to access museums, concerts and indoor dining?

That means visitors just need to carry the official proof of vaccination issued by your home country, such as a CDC-approved vaccination card from the US, a provincial immunisation card from Canada or an NHS vaccination certificate from the UK.

If you do not have a pass from one of these countries and plan on using public transport or going to a venue or event in Italy that requires a green pass, you will need to get tested in Italy (or elsewhere in the EU) in order to claim a certificate that remains valid for 48 hours.

Member comments

  1. What about travelers from US, assuming allowed entry to Italy with proof of vaccination and negative COVID test? Will CDC vax card be accepted for the long distance trains?

    1. How can you get a Green Pass as an American?

      If you only hold a USA passport, you won’t be able to get a green pass before you get to Europe.
      Once you’re IN EUROPE, however, you can get a Green Pass by simply getting a Covid test in Europe. On our recent trip to Italy, we presented ourselves at a pharmacy, took a quick antigen test, and the Green Pass was in our email inbox within about 30 minutes.

    1. How can you get a Green Pass as an American?

      If you only hold a USA passport, you won’t be able to get a green pass before you get to Europe.
      Once you’re IN EUROPE, however, you can get a Green Pass by simply getting a Covid test in Europe. On our recent trip to Italy, we presented ourselves at a pharmacy, took a quick antigen test, and the Green Pass was in our email inbox within about 30 minutes.

      1. Stephanie, I am a dual citizen and have an Italian passport but was vaccinated in US. So that means your comment still applies to me?

  2. My colleague is an Italian Citizen but was vaccinated in the USA as he splits his time between there and Italy. I know in theory his CDC vaccination card should allow him the same access as a Green Pass when in Italy, however does anyone know if there is a way he can get an EU vaccine certificate / Green Pass through his CDC card proving his vaccination, so he has one for good? This will avoid any issues with venues / vendors that may decide not to accept the CDC card.

  3. Can anyone help me in a) telling me what sort of covid test is needed to fly back from Venice to U.K., b) does the certificate have to be in English and c)where can I get the relevant test – can you just drop in at a local farmacia?
    Finally, how hellish are the immigration queues at LHR/LGW?
    Thanks in anticipation…

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For members


EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023

The EU has announced that its Covid travel certificate will be extended until 2023 - so what does this mean if you have a trip planned this year?

EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023

Cleaning up the phone and thinking of getting rid of that Covid app? Just wait a minute. 

The European Union has decided to extend the use of EU Covid certificates by one year, until June 30th 2023. 

The European Commission first made the proposal in February as the virus, and the Omicron variant in particular, was continuing to spread in Europe. At that point it was “not possible to determine the impact of a possible increase in infections in the second half of 2022 or of the emergence of new variants,” the Commission said. 

Now tourism is taking off again, while Covid cases are on the rise in several European countries.

So the EU has taken action to ensure that travellers can continue using the so-called ‘digital green certificates’ in case new restrictions are put in place after their initial deadline of June 30th, 2022. 

What is the EU ‘digital green certificate’?

If you have travelled within the EU in the last year, you have probably already used it.

On 1st July 2021, EU countries started to introduce the ‘digital green certificate’, a Covid pass designed by the European Commission to facilitate travel between EU member states following months of restrictions.

It can be issued to EU citizens and residents who have been vaccinated against Covid, have tested negative or have recovered from the virus, as a proof of their health status. 

Although it’s called a certificate, it isn’t a separate document, it’s just a way of recognising all EU countries’ national health pass schemes.

It consists of a QR code displayed on a device or printed.

So if you live in an EU country, the QR code issued when you were vaccinated or tested can be scanned and recognised by all other EU countries – you can show the code either on a paper certificate or on your country’s health pass app eg TousAntiCovid if you’re in France or the green pass in Italy. 

Codes are recognised in all EU 27 member states, as well as in 40 non-EU countries that have joined the scheme, including the UK – full list here.

What does the extension of certificates mean? 

In practice, the legal extension of the EU Covid pass does not mean much if EU countries do not impose any restrictions.

It’s important to point out that each country within the EU decides on its own rules for entry – requiring proof of vaccination, negative tests etc so you should check with your country of destination.

All the EU certificate does is provide an easy way for countries to recognise each others’ certificates.

At present travel within the EU is fairly relaxed, with most countries only requiring negative tests for unvaccinated people, but the certificate will become more relevant again if countries impose new measures to curb the spread of the virus. 

According to the latest data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, countries such as France, Portugal and parts of Italy and Austria are in the red again. 

The EU legislation on the certificate neither prescribes nor prohibits such measures, but makes sure that all certificate holders are treated in the same way in any participating country. 

The EU certificate can also be used for access to venues such as bars and restaurants if countries decided to re-impose health or vaccines passes on a domestic basis.

So nothing changes?

In fact, the legislation introduces some changes to the current certificates. These include the clarification that passes issued after vaccination should reflect all doses administered, regardless of the member state where the inoculation occurred. This followed complaints of certificates indicating an incorrect number of vaccine doses when these were received in different countries.

In addition, new rules allow the possibility to issue a certificate of recovery following an antigen test and extend the range of uthorised antigen tests to qualify for the green pass. 

To support the development and study of vaccines against Covid, it will also be possible to issue vaccination certificates to people participating in clinical trials.

At the insistence of the European Parliament, the Commission will have to publish an assessment of the situation by December 31st 2022 and propose to repeal or maintain the certificate accordingly. So, while it is extended for a year, the certificate could be discontinued earlier if it will no longer be consider necessary. 

The European parliament rapporteur, Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, said: “The lack of coordination from EU governments on travel brought chaos and disruption to the lives of millions of Europeans that simply wanted to move freely and safely throughout the EU.

“We sincerely hope that the worst of the pandemic is far behind us and we do not want Covid certificates in place a day longer than necessary.”

Vaccination requirements for the certificate

An EU certificate can be issued to a person vaccinated with any type of vaccine, but many countries accept only EMA-approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Valneva and Janssen) – if you have been vaccinated with another vaccine, you should check the rules on the country you are travelling to.  

Certificates remain valid for 9 months (270) days following a complete vaccination cycle – so if you had your vaccine more than nine months ago you will need a booster in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

There is no requirement for a second booster, so if you have had a booster you remain ‘fully vaccinated’ even if your booster was administered more than 9 months ago. 

As of 1st March 2022, EU countries had issued almost 1.2 billion EU Covid certificates, of which 1.15 billion following vaccination, 511 million as a result of tests and 55 million after recovery from the virus. 

France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Austria are the countries that have issued the largest number of EU Covid certificates.